Sunday, June 16, 2013

Up and down the mountain

It seems climate change has arrived in Haiti. With the exception of one night, every night of the 3 weeks I have been home has been an adventure in weather - rain, wind, thunder, lightning. Both pictures were taken after about 30 min. of rain which continued until morning. I have no idea what happened to the rainy season. It didn't show up when it was supposed to and this is not it.
Our drive way in Cap-Haitien

Our corner in Sen Rafayel
Daytime temperatures well above 100, yesterday real feel 122 (50 celcius) combined with the wet nights make for a bad mixture of mosquitos ( marengwen in Kreyol ) and malaria. Frequent electricity outages in Cap-Haitien make a bad situation worse. In the village, we are still not on the receiving end of hydro.

When we arrived in Sen Rafayel this week, student part-time staffer St. Luc arrived for work about the same time, presenting symptoms which turned out to be Malaria. We began treatment and kept him. Sending him home was not an option as the rain had begun and was too heavy. On the way down the mountain we played ' find the hot telephone service  spot' with Cap coordinator Lusnot, He was calling to tell us Paudeline had just returned from the clinic with a Malaria/Anemia/UTI diagnosis.

Fortunately we passed a very small but well stocked pharmacy (famasi) just past the airport so were able to pick up Chloroquine/Vitamin C / Fertone and Multi vitamins. We still have an adequate supply of Allimax on hand so were able to begin treatment for everything immediately. Our protein powder supply is finished but it made a great difference for a while.
Paudeline down with Malaria but still reading.

No time is a good time for a malaria outbreak but we are in exam mode so this is particularly bad timing. Grades 7,8, 3 eme and 2nd began writing the 10th of June. State Nationals for 9eme will be written the last week of June, followed by State Nationals for Retho week of July 1st, Philo week of July 8th. Sen Rafayel center is open 7 days a week,  in Cap we have reopened Sundays for those who need some extra tutoring.

For our nursing students at University Roi Henri Christophe, exams run 15-26 of July. Nursing students in Leogane are writing and putting finishing touches on 'Memoires". University students in the Dominican Republic will begin August 1st.

Once results are in for State Nationals, those just on the pass/fail line will have a chance to rewrite in September (ajoune)

The Breakfast Club in Sen Rafayel-they line up before we open.
It is often the only food of the day.
Easier to study/write exams with food in your stomach.
In Cap - Stephan -Francais

Rosema and Viola - Chemistry (Chimie)

                                         In Sen Rafayel -   Eguens and Sterlin - discussion

In addition to study mode, May is our admission month. During May we accept letters from students who have been unable to attend school for at least the current school. Of the 500 letters we received during the allotted time ,  nearly 300 had legitimately been out of school. (There are always dozens delivered after the deadline but we do not accept them. Our resources are already limited and because of limited finances, we'll only be able to take in about 10% of the applicants.) The other 200 applicants  had lost or were in danger of losing their support and did not want to sit out. It takes every staff member many hours to read through the letters, highlighting the appropriate information which will lead to an interview or rejection. Someday we'll have the resources to say yes to everyone

Lusnot gives letters first reading in Cap.

Kesner helps sort letters in Sen Rafayel. Yes, the purple
briefcase is full of letters.

Of the potential admissions which could result from the letters, 45 have both parents dead,  134 one parent dead and one other support system ie an older brother who helped had died of cholera, an uncle who had paid for school had been killed in the earthquake...., 37 had both parents living. Of that number, not one had a parent in good health or able to work. There were 10 asking for transfers between Cap and Sen Rafayel, another 10 we considered URGENT and another 15 who had written before whose circumstances had become more pressing.
Urgent situations are dealt with as quickly as possible. If a student is trapped in a 'restavec' situation, or being coerced to provide sexual favors for school fees, or their letter is filled with despair, we interview them first. Over the past 10 days we have admitted Odette, Emania, Ralph and Nathacha. Emania lost her parents in the earthquake, made her way to an aunt in Sen Rafayel who would not take her in. Another family gave her a job sweeping and cleaning in return for a piece of bread and allowed her to sleep outside their house. We have found an older sister and will deliver her to the sister in July once she has all her papers to-gether. She'll start school in Cap-Haitien.
When we admit a student , once they sign a contract they may use our centers in both Cap-Haitien and Sen Rafayel daily as long as they follow the rules. Giving them a place to go while waiting to start school gives them a community.

Ralph - Admi

Odette - Admi

Emania - Admi

Nathacha - Admi
Up and down the mountain we continue to find our share of challenges - sometimes it takes persistence, sometimes it takes a spare part, sometimes it takes knowing that turning around to-day will allow us to try again to-morrow.

Arriving in Sen Rafayel - so near and yet so far.

The trench dug by angry residents was a sign to turn around and try again.
Next day was no problem although the anger still simmers.

Some times a helping hand (or three) is all that's needed.

Occasionally it's sit for several hours until to-gether we find a solution.
There are no tow trucks and the police drove by and didn't stop.

That nightly thunderstorm I mentioned earlier decided to arrive in the afternoon to-day. I've sent the staff and kids home as the wind is making airborn missiles out of usually earthbound objects. Again there is no electricity so this laptop battery and Natcom 3g WIFI stick have performed admirably.

Have a great week

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